Home Tips & Tricks What Causes LaserJet Printer Pages to Smear?

What Causes LaserJet Printer Pages to Smear?


HP’s LaserJet product line debuted in 1984 with a $3,500 model that printed eight pages per minute using a toner cartridge with a 3,000-page yield. When your modern-day office LaserJet starts putting out pages that smear when you touch them, focus your troubleshooting on the printing components and consumables that contribute directly to the flawed sheets you find in the output tray.

Toner Cartridge

Toner blends pigment and finely ground plastic into a powder that forms a heat-set bond with paper. Toner formulations vary by machine and manufacturer. Although new cartridges typically contain toner with the right fusing properties for the printer they target, remanufactured cartridges could be refilled with material that requires a higher fusing temperature than your LaserJet develops. Under those conditions, toner can’t bond correctly, which makes it smear and wipe off. To correct the problem, try another toner cartridge.


Your LaserJet’s fuser provides the heat source that sets toner to paper in a virtually permanent bond. If the fuser doesn’t develop the proper temperature to complete that bonding process, the result resembles what you see if you accidentally introduce the wrong toner into your printer. Fuser problems can stem from component failures, use of improperly remanufactured parts or improper setup following a repair.